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Save Capel campaign continues at Tunbridge Wells Town Hall

By Alan Smith

Councillors attending a meeting of the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's cabinet on Thursday can expect a noisy welcome.

Members of the Save Capel Campaign will be on the steps of the Town Hall as councillors arrive at 10.30am in an attempt to persuade them to drop plans for a Garden Village in Capel from the borough's draft Local Plan before they approve it to go out to public consultation in September.

The residents realise that there is little chance that the council leader Cllr Alan McDermott and his five portfolio holders will change their minds at this late stage, but the campaigners are determined to fight what they regard as a threat to their community as every stage, right up to a public inquiry before a Government inspector.

Save Capel demonstrators are getting use to demonstrating outside council meetings
Save Capel demonstrators are getting use to demonstrating outside council meetings

They have engaged a planning consultancy to take up their case, which has made a strong argument that the borough is not obliged to find sites to meet its full housing target if constraints to development are too difficult.

Castle Planning said: "Under the National Planning Policy Framework, the council is not obliged to plan for the full objectively assessed housing need given the constraints within the borough created by the extent Greenbelt Land and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty."

Only a week ago, council leader Alan McDermott told demonstrators: "People will disagree about whether we need all these houses - but this a Government diktat that we must meet."

But it has now emerged that neighbouring Sevenoaks District Council is indeed drafting a Local Plan with fewer homes than the Government's housing formula requires, using just that argument that the extent of greenbelt land in the borough places constraints on development.

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